The warmer weather calls for light and seasonal desserts. These Lemon Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting check all the boxes for a flavorful Spring and Summer treat everyone will love. And it won’t have you spending hours in the kitchen preparing them either!
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Thank you to Domino® Sugar for sponsoring this post! I was compensated for providing this recipe and blog post, however all opinions are my own.
Watch how to make these cupcakes!
Lemon and Strawberry are a classic warm weather combo
Certain flavor pairings are just meant to be. Lemon and strawberry are one of those, for sure!
This flavor combo conjures up all the warm weather feels! It’s bright and refreshing and brings the best, fresh flavors of the season to make desserts sing.
For this cupcake, the cake is a moist and fluffy lemon cake topped with a naturally flavored strawberry buttercream frosting that’s light and perfectly fluffy.
The secret to bright lemon flavor in baked goods
There are a few tricks to bringing out lemon flavor in these cupcakes. The first secret is to use lemon juice plus lemon zest. The zest of citrus fruit is jam-packed with so much flavor. It’d be a shame to let it go to waste, frankly. This is by far my favorite tool for zesting citrus!
The second secret to enhancing lemon flavor is to work the lemon zest into the granulated sugar before adding it to the butter. Rubbing the lemon zest into the sugar releases the oils in the zest and amps up the lemon flavor in the best way possible!
Naturally Flavored Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
This frosting gets all its flavor and color from strawberries themselves! The secret to attaining such rich strawberry flavor in buttercream frosting is to create a strawberry puree then reduce it to concentrate the flavors.
This technique allows you to use fresh or frozen strawberries. Even if it’s not the right season for strawberries or you cannot get fresh fruit locally or inexpensively, using frozen strawberries is a great option.
Puree the strawberries by themselves in a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender. Then, place the puree in a saucepan over low heat and allow the puree to reduce by about half.
While the puree is reducing, the water is evaporating from the mixture, concentrating the beautiful strawberry flavor. And, this technique produces a beautiful brightly colored puree that, when mixed into the buttercream, makes for a gorgeous frosting to your cupcakes!
Ingredients Needed to Make Lemon Cupcakes
To make moist and fluffy lemon cupcakes, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Domino® Golden Sugar: this granulated sugar is less-processed, made from pure cane sugar, and works cup-for-cup just like white sugar. It has a beautiful golden color and a distinct hint of molasses flavor that adds depth to any dish
- Lemon Zest: this is my favorite tool for zesting citrus. To get 2 tablespoons of zest, you’ll need about 2 large lemons
- Butter: use unsalted when you can, as this will allow you to control the level of salt in your baking. Be sure to leave your butter out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes prior to baking. This will ensure the butter incorporates evenly into the cupcake batter
- Eggs: US size Large eggs. Room temperature eggs work best. Remove the eggs from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to mixing into the batter to ensure they incorporate evenly
- Vanilla Extract: Use high quality pure vanilla extract whenever you can
- All-Purpose Flour: Be sure you’re measuring the flour correctly without packing it into the measuring cups. Scoop the flour into the measuring cup using a spoon and level off the top without pressing down
- Baking Powder: make sure it’s fresh so it’ll work properly to help your cupcakes rise
- Baking Soda: same as above, make sure it’s fresh and make sure you’re not using the baking soda that has been sitting in your fridge. Baking soda is very good at absorbing odors, so using the one from your fridge will make your cupcakes taste like the contents of your fridge
- Salt: I use kosher salt, however, use whatever kind you have available. Feel free to adjust the level of salt to suit your preferences
- Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt: Either will work well here. Be sure you’re using full-fat versions of either ingredient. And be sure the greek yogurt is not flavored
- Milk: whole milk works best here. I have not tried this recipe with milk alternatives such as non dairy milks like almond, oat or soy. They should work just fine in this recipe
- Lemon Juice: freshly squeezed will taste best, but in a pinch, using the bottled stuff will work fine, too. If using freshly squeezed lemon juice, be sure to strain it for seeds and pith before adding it to the batter
Ingredients Needed to Make Strawberry Buttercream Frosting:
To make light and fluffy strawberry buttercream frosting, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Strawberries: fresh or frozen will work equally well here. You’ll be pureeing them in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender to create a puree. If you don’t have strawberries, feel free to substitute with strawberry jam. If you want to use dried strawberries, this strawberry marshmallow fluff is a nice change up from buttercream and provides so much berry flavor to boost baked goods with frosting or topping.
- Butter: use unsalted when you can, as this will allow you to control the level of salt in your baking. Be sure to leave your butter out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes prior to baking, preferably longer. This will ensure the butter incorporates evenly into the frosting without any lumps of butter. You'll find that whether you enjoy a lemony cupcake or use the butter in dark chocolate buttercream frosting on a cake, the butter should be easy to work with.
- Domino® Powdered Sugar: this sugar is a very fine, powdered sugar with exceptionally smooth texture. It’s ideal for using in frostings!
- Salt: I use kosher salt, however, use whatever kind you have available. Feel free to adjust the level of salt to suit your preferences or omit altogether
- Vanilla Extract: Use high quality pure vanilla extract whenever you can
Like this recipe? Follow me on Pinterest for lots more recipes just like this one! And don’t forget to pin this recipe for later by clicking on one of the images below the recipe. Or, click on any of the images in this post to save to Pinterest.
Looking for more cupcake recipes? Give these a try:
FOR ALL MY FAVORITE BAKING TOOLS INCLUDING THOSE USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE, CHECK OUT MY BAKING RESOURCES PAGE!
- 1 cup whole strawberries (fresh or frozen), washed and hulled
- 1 cup Domino® Golden sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest rom about 2 large lemons
- ½ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup full-fat sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 4 cups Domino® powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- 6 tablespoons strawberry puree from step 1
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prepare Strawberry Puree for the Frosting:
- Place strawberries in a blender and puree until smooth; you should have about 1 cup of puree.
- Transfer strawberry puree to a small saucepan and place over medium heat; bring to a boil, stirring frequently so strawberries don’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Cook until puree is reduced by at least half, yielding about ½ cup, about 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely while you make the cupcakes.
Make Lemon Cupcakes:
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
- Line 2 cupcakes pans with 14 cupcake liners. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, add Domino® Golden Sugar and lemon zest.
- Work the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers to release the oils.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and lemon sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
- Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then add the eggs and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until evenly incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.
- Turn the mixer on low and slowly add in sour cream and milk until there are no longer dry spots of flour.
- Stir in lemon juice just until evenly incorporated.
- Fill the cupcake liners ¾ of the way full.
- Bake for 5 min in the preheated oven then reduce temperature to 350ºF (177ºC) and bake another 10-12 minutes.
- Allow cupcakes to cool in pans for 15 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely while you prepare the frosting.
Make the Strawberry Frosting:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
- With the mixer off, add in Domino® Powdered Sugar and salt.
- Mix on low, gradually increasing speed until just blended.
- Mixture will look dry.
- Add 6 tablespoons of the strawberry puree (from step 1 of the recipe) and vanilla into the butter sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until well blended and fluffy.
- When cupcakes are completely cool, frost and serve.
- Fresh or frozen strawberries can be used for the strawberry puree
- Store frosted cupcakes in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. If preparing the cupcakes ahead of time, store cupcakes at room temperature for up to 4 days and frosting separately in the fridge. Stir the frosting well before frosting the cupcakes
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